Sunday, July 21, 2024

Jimy Williams, former Astros, Blue Jays and Red Sox manager, dies at 80: ‘A true staple and leader’

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Jimy Williams, who both played and managed at the big-league level over the span of a more than four-decade long career in baseball, has died at the age of 80. Several of his former teams honored Williams.

Williams always seemed to find regular season success, but postseason glory tended to evade him. He received his first managerial opportunity at the age of 42. He spent four seasons at the helm of the Toronto Blue Jays, guiding them to a 53.8% winning percentage before being dismissed after a 12-24 start to the 1989 season. Those Blue Jays would famously rally under the guidance of Williams’ successor, Cito Gaston, winning 89 games and the division before falling in the American League Championship Series.

Williams would resurface years later as the manager of the Boston Red Sox. In parts of five seasons there, he won 54% of his games and led Boston to a 5-9 postseason record. He even won the 1999 Manager of the Year Award. The Red Sox would part ways with Williams deep into the 2001 season, a move that would open the door for Grady Little and then Tito Francona to take over.

Williams’ third and final stint as a big-league manager came with the Houston Astros. Once more he finished his time with a franchise with a winning record (52.2% winning percentage), and once more he was removed in-season. 

Before, after, and in between Williams’ various managerial reigns, he served as a coach on Bobby Cox’s Toronto and Atlanta Braves staffs. He later filled roles with the Tampa Bay Rays (as a roving instructor) and Philadelphia Phillies (as a bench coach), with whom he won a World Series ring in 2008.

Though better remembered for his time as a manager, Williams did appear in 14 games during the 1966-67 seasons as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals. He batted .231/.286/.231 while seeing action at both middle-infield positions.

Williams is survived in part by two sons who remain active in baseball: Brady is the third-base coach for the Rays, and Shawn is a minor-league manager in the Phillies system.

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